By Rey E. Requejo | Manila Standard Today
THE Supreme Court, acting as the Presidential Electoral Tribunal, has prescribed the rules governing the coming recount or revision of the ballots in connection with the election protest filed by former Senator Ferdinand Marcos Jr.
The PET laid down the rules, including the composition, screening and hiring of the members of the Revision Committees, the creation of an Exploratory Mission or Retrieval Team and the compensation of those who will eventually take part in the actual recounting of the ballots.
The PET approved the use of the Supreme Court’s Gymnasium in the proceedings. It also included two more areas to be used in the election protest: a portion of the Fourth Floor Parking Level of the SC-Court of Appeals Multi-Purpose Building as well as a room at the back of the Division Hearing Room.
The high court also required that each Revision Committee be composed of a coordinator who will be a lawyer, a recorder and a representative, each from the protestant and protestee. It also required the parties to designate their respective alternative representatives.
The tribunal also provided for P1,500 per clustered precinct compensation for each Revision Committee, which will cover the members’ compensation and supplies. The coordinator will receive a compensation of P780 while the recorder will be entitled to P480. The remaining P184 will be for their supplies or materials.
Unlike the old rules, which required that the coordinator must come from high court personnel, the tribunal amended it by saying the Coordinators must come from outside the high court.
Because of such requirement, the PET ordered the Office of the Acting Chief Administrative Officer to post the vacancies for the members of the Revision Committees and accept applications for the staffing complement. The Acting Clerk of the Tribunal will screen the applicants for the position of coordinators of the Revision Committee.
The PET also created an Exploratory Mission/Retrieval Team that will locate and examine all ballot boxes in the contested provinces and cities in order to facilitate their retrieval and transport to the Supreme Court compound for the revision.
The tribunal also fixed the compensation of the members of the panel of commissioners Justice Jose Vitug as chairperson who will receive P50,000 a month starting July 2017; and his members lawyers Angelito Imperio and Irene Ragodon-Guevarra who will each receive P45,000 monthly starting July 2017.
Lawyer Victor Rodriguez, spokesman of Marcos, welcomed the PET resolution which finally set in motion the requirements needed to pave the way for the revision of votes, saying it is a step forward towards their quest for truth.
“We cannot wait for the actual process to start because it is the only way we’ll be able to ferret the truth. We have always maintained that the ballots themselves are the best evidence in any election protest,” Rodriguez said.
“This is the reason why we have always pushed for the early revision of ballots. Unfortunately, we have suffered many delays because the other party keeps opposing our moves to open the ballots. One year and three months have already gone by. We hope that this will expedite the process so this issue can be settle once and for all. The Filipino people deserve to know their real Vice President is.”